Ireland and Leinster hooker Ronan Kelleher has joined up with the British and Irish Lions squad for their training camp in Jersey.
While Kelleher will train with Warren Gatland’s Lions squad ahead of their first game against Japan on Saturday the 26th of June, the Irishman has not been formally added to the 37-man squad.
26 players travelled to Jersey for the Lions’ training camp in the Channel island, as 12 players are unable to join up with the squad at this point in time due to club commitments.
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12 players unavailable for Lions training camp in Jersey.
Players that are involved in the play-offs of the Gallagher Premiership will remain with their clubs until their seasons end. So to will Finn Russell, who is currently playing for Racing 92 in the Top 14 play-offs.
The five Lions players contracted to Saracens have also been unable to travel to Jersey, as the three-time European champions played the first leg of their promotion play-off from the Greene King IPA Championship against Ealing Trailfinders on Sunday.
Saracens won that encounter by 60 points, all put securing their promotion to next season’s Premiership. The club have not indicated whether they may be willing to release their Lions call-ups early in order for them to join up with the squad in Jersey after their one-sided victory.
Ronan Kelleher providing Lions cover for Luke Cowan-Dickie and Jamie George.
While Kelleher is not currently in Gatland’s plans for the tour to South Africa, the Lions head coach said that he was delighted to welcome the young Leinster hooker to train with his squad.
As two of the three hookers selected in this year’s squad are currently still playing with their clubs (Exeter Chiefs’ Luke Cowan-Dickie and Saracens’ Jamie George) Kelleher has been brought in to provide a second hooker for the training camp in Jersey.
Although the 23-year-old has not been formally added to the squad, his invitation to the training camp indicated that he is Gatland’s fourth-choice hooker, and may receive a call-up should any of the three hookers selected get injured.
In the meantime, Kelleher is expected to be announced in Ireland head coach Andy Farrell’s squad for the two test matches against Japan and the USA next month.